Farmer, Reynolds, Vinge and Vance

It’s been a while since I’ve discussed my 2013 goal of reading nothing but science fiction, so I figured I’d post an update on what I’ve read, what I’ve enjoyed and what just wasn’t for me.

What I’ve Read So Far

Congo by Michael Crichton

Micro by Michael Crichton & Richard Preston

On Basilisk Station by David Weber

Redshirts by John Scalzi

Riverworld by Philip Jose Farmer

Terminal World by Alastair Reynolds

The Twelve by Justin Cronin

The Year’s Best Science Fiction #16

Zones of Thought: A Fire Upon the Deep by Vernor Vinge

What I’ve Enjoyed

I’ve already hailed David Weber’s writing, so I won’t waste time talking about him again. Also, the fact that The Twelve by Justin Cronin was even better than The Passage needs no additional explanation.

Redshirts: Though John Scalzi’s homage to classic Star Trek is a little light on original plot and characters, it was hilarious and surprisingly engaging, and not just because I’m a bit of a Trekkie.

Terminal World: I’ve read a few of Alastair Reynolds’s short stories, but this novel was absolutely incredible. Reynolds is a master at weaving together intricate storytelling, a truly original world and characters, and stunning action into a perfect whole. Seriously, he has to be one of the best science fiction authors I have ever read.

What Wasn’t for Me

Micro: I posted a couple weeks ago about the fact that the last Michael Crichton novel just wasn’t very good. It was an attempt at an imitation, when you can’t imitate someone as amazing as Crichton. My advice is not to bother reading it. Congo, however, was excellent, pure Crichton.

Riverworld: I tried with this book. I really did. The premise for the story is absolutely brilliant, but I couldn’t get past the dialogue. Everyone sounds like they live in 1850s London, even the people that were supposedly born in the 21st-century; to me they all sounded so similar that I had trouble keeping the characters apart. This was a bit of a problem for me. Sorry, Kevin.

Fire Upon the Deep: Stuart Ross and Jim Smith hailed Vernor Vinge’s work to me, and after reading a couple of his excellent short stories, I was really excited to read this novel. While the story was great, the characters immensely detailed, and the world intricate and unique, I found the writing a bit too dense for my liking. I’m definitely more a fan of soft sci-fi, and Deep is about as hard as you can get, I think. I’ll probably try reading this again somewhere down the line, but for now I had to move on.

What’s Next?

I’m currently about halfway through The Honor of the Queen, Weber’s sequel to On Basilisk Station – and loving it. After that I’ll be reading:

Tales of the Dying Earth (Jack Vance)\

Fringe: The Zodiac Paradox (Christa Faust)

– 2312 (Kim Stanley Robinson)

Ender’s Game (Orson Scott Card)

To all of my fellow science fiction enthusiasts – happy reading!


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